There’s nothing like a good moral panic to fill up the column inches and, 60 years ago, the May 1964 edition of ‘Rugby World’ was fulminating about the increasingly physical nature of the game, particularly in the wake of the recent Ireland v Wales meeting.

The magazine gave a page to reproducing press comments on the game, including this one from Vivian Jenkins in the ‘Sunday Times’. “Leahy, the new Irish second-row man, showed great pluck in carrying on in spite of being knocked out at least three or four times.” Meanwhile, in ‘The Observer’, Clem Thomas noted, “Skills were dissipated in endless bouts of physical violence.”

To give further voice to this new problem, E.W. Swanton was given two pages to note his concerns, concentrating on weak refereeing regarding sending players off. “Referees will not bring upon themselves and their victim the whole palaver that would be involved; the publicity, the threat to personal friendships, the tiresome rigmarole of the ‘court-martial’, and all the rest of it.”

You can read all the ins and out of the 1964 ‘Keep Rugger Clean’ campaign here.

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